Troubled Coalition maintains campaign against ‘Red’ Shorten – September 2017

Filed under: Politics, Australian Politics,

Labor leader Bill Shorten finds himself the prime target of the Coalition’s efforts to revive its standing with voters after 18 consecutive Newspoll surveys found it to be in losing position.

In the latest attack, Treasurer Scott Morrison called Mr Shorten the leader of a new “red” Labor party, and accused the opposition of “economic time travel” by leading the most left-wing labour movement Australia has seen in generations.

Mr Morrison also warned against the economics of opportunity being overwhelmed by “the new romantics of protectionism,” and compared Mr Shorten to British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and US senator Bernie Sanders.

A week earlier, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann accused a Shorten-led Labor party of “socialist revisionism” that would lead to a “success exodus” – that is, successful people and businesses leaving the country.

In a speech to Bloomberg’s Mr Morrison argued the Government’s policy was to pursue “the economics of opportunity.

“This is not an ideology or theory, as our critics claim. It is just practical, common sense economics.

“It is what has made Australia a prosperous country and will continue to do so, so long as we do not allow this common sense approach to be overwhelmed by the rebirthing of failed left wing economic policies, offering false promises to people who have been caught in the transition of our economies in the post GFC period.

“These forces are real. Whether it is Bill Shorten's New 'Red' Labor in Australia, the most left wing Labor Party we have seen in generations, Jeremy Corbyn in the UK or Bernie Sanders in the US.

“Equally, we cannot allow the economics of opportunity to be overwhelmed by the New Romantics of Protectionism, who pretend we can engage in some type of economic time travel to the past.”

He said, “The opportunism of Bill Shorten's New Red Labor has embraced these forces to form a new flat earth economic alliance.”

Commentators said the attacks were part of a broader Coalition strategy to paint “a doomsday scenario” of Australia with Mr Shorten at the helm.

Fairfax Media’s Mark Kenny also commented that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was being encouraged by senior ministers “to run from behind, allowing him to use his underdog status to highlight the growing ‘danger’ of Bill Shorten becoming the nation's 30th prime minister”.

“The shift is designed to free the Prime Minister from the ongoing indignity of insisting that “black is white” in the face of bad polls while also facilitating a more surgical attack on what the taxation polices of a Shorten Labor government would mean for business and jobs,” he wrote.

“Facing searching questions over the 30 consecutive losing Newspoll benchmark he used to justify his challenge to Tony Abbott, Mr Turnbull's closest advisers in Cabinet believe there is no longer any point in denying they are failing to connect with voters or that they would need to come from behind to win the next election.

“A senior source revealed Mr Turnbull was being urged to concede the point and to hold off on going to the people until 2019, despite a widespread expectation within the Government that the next election would be held in late 2018.”

Mr Morrison accused the Labor leader of “offering false promises” to voters who have been caught in the economy's transition since the global financial crisis by “rebirthing failed left-wing economic policies”.

The Treasurer said his mantra of “better days ahead” was not wishful thinking, despite persistently low wage growth dogging otherwise positive economic news.

News Corp papers pounced on a comment by Mr Shorten that he would have no problem with an additional plaque on a Captain Cook statue in Sydney’s Hyde Park – the target of a graffiti attack—clarifying that the explorer did not literally “discover” Australia, as the present plaque says.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph declared that Mr Shorten had “caved-in” to the left wing of his party (although the issue was raised by Indigenous journalist Stan Grant), while Mr Turnbull accused him of “rewarding vandalism”.

Mr Shorten responded: “This Prime Minister is now engaging in statue wars with Labor. We condemn the vandalism, full stop.”

With the Government’s one-seat majority in the House of Representatives under threat because of the dual citizenship debacle, the political discourse could be even stranger when Parliament resumes on Monday September 4.

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